Let’s educate the gamblers

WE talked about prices and value last Tuesday but one of our readers has completely missed the point and verballed me to boot. The article, “When is the price right?“, was all about value and how prices get to where they finish. I made no mention of what was “my favourite”, or about the Watchdog’s favourites, only about the price which the market produced for its favourites.

Nor did I comment on Fixed Odds favourites or their prices because we have no idea what they were (you could take a guess but the only evidence available is the final one, which may or may not be the shortest price offered).

And a regular, “Todman”, asks if oncourse bookmakers are “raking in the moolah”. The first question to ask there is – what oncourse bookmakers? They are few and far between – and almost entirely at major meetings. The single reason for that is that there are few if any customers worth catering to. Trainers are of limited value because they tend to know which runners have no chance and leave them alone – so an unbalanced book is the outcome. Anyway, a single bookie attending is like the sound of one hand clapping. A relic of the ages, more’s the pity.

Prices are set basically by tipsters like Watchdog and Ozchase on the one hand and TABs and corporate bookies who offer Fixed Odds on the other. The weight of money may alter things as time passes and the Fixed Odds people simply shut off the access when they feel like it.

My points were that punters are scarce, gamblers are plentiful, and favourites’ prices are terrible. That combination is a serious threat to the industry, especially when genuine greyhound punters have also to work with small pools.

Whether at The Meadows or anywhere else, taking prices as short as those I mentioned will leave you with the seat out of your pants. That especially includes odds-on pops, notably popular runners like Sweet It Is which I have covered several times in the past. Put a dollar on it every time and you will end up losing at the end of the year.

As for identifying false favourites, well that’s a fine idea but pray tell me how your average gambler would do that. If he can’t read a formguide, how can he identify the likely favourite?

Meanwhile, here are some language tips to help you into the New Year.

“Races best out in front”. As does every greyhound ever seen on a racetrack.

“Keep safe”. Absolutely no idea what this means. If it wins, the tipster might claim he told you to beware.

“Needs luck early”. A hopeless beginner, so don’t touch it.

“Smokey”. If it happens to win (which it probably won’t) we told you to beware.

“Needs to avoid trouble”. As does every greyhound. This is a moderate beginner.

“Member of a good litter”. The odds are 99/1 against that being helpful in your betting. Look elsewhere.

“Top winner over 600m, should get the extra distance to 720m”. Seldom can they do this – best to bet against it.

“Better than form shows”. Maybe, but three poor runs are usually followed by a fourth.

On the other hand, a helpful tipster or commentator might well tell you how he sees the race unfolding. He might discuss where a runner likes to race on the track, whether it is strong at the finish, whether its recent form is good or appropriate (two different things), how consistent it is, what sort of price it justifies, and so on.

Apart from providing useful information, chatting like that will encourage readers to take a greater interest in the skills of punting and increase their knowledge of the greyhound racing game. Indeed, that’s something you will rarely get on radio or on SKY.

In particular, I would recommend ignoring any comments from trainers. Obviously they are biased to start with, and they may or may not be the types who are happy to give up inside information (both sorts exist). But almost always their dominant influence is how good a galloper a dog is. In practice, the race less often goes to the best galloper but to the dog which is best placed to succeed – a big difference.

Victoria still dropping the ball

Nork did the wrong thing at The Meadows last Saturday. Officially, it finished 6th in front of a faller in 33.15 (in a 525m race!). Actually the dog broke its hock (running off at the first turn) and was euthanased. However, GRV records now show it as “Retired”. That’s some retirement home they have down there in the Garden State.

Later, on Christmas Eve at Sandown, Galloping Jamie broke down and was denoted “T” on the detailed results page. In fact, it also broke a hock and was euthanased. Permanent GRV records for the dog now classify it as “Retired”.

No doubt this practice reduces the number of serious injuries recorded at Victorian tracks, especially Sandown. NSW stewards previously accomplished the same thing by simply not reporting deaths. So the country’s two biggest greyhound states both have, or had, an integrity and governance problem.

Galloping Jamie did the damage at the usual spot while going around Sandown’s first turn. That needs a “Black Spot” designation because it has been going on for 17 years since the track was rebuilt.

These incidents draw attention to the recent effort by GRNSW to commission an independent study into track designs. The “new broom” administration is to be congratulated on attempting to overcome what is probably the code’s biggest curse – disruptive tracks. The only drawback is that other states are reported not to be interested in taking part in the study.

Greyhound racing is surely the only major sport which still relies on 1950s concepts and designs, all created by amateurs and continued by administrations which lack vision and innovative policies. For comparison, think drop-in pitches, boundary ropes rather than fences, Hawkeye at cricket and tennis matches, head-protection rules at AFL and NRL, bigger harness racing circuits, protective cocoons in Formula One cockpits, crash bags, power steering and airconditioning in ordinary cars, and so on and so forth.

The only one that puzzles me is why they do not allow left handed hockey sticks (which denies access to 20% of the population). Anyway, why should it matter which side of the stick you hit the puck with? I doubt the public understand that.

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Past Discussion

  1. I see in another Forum, a leading trainer, tongue in cheek, mentioned tracks were designed by Bookmakers, funny I thought, but a respected participant and form expert berated him, worst corner ever Beaumont Park in Newcastle, calamity corner it was known as.

  2. I see in another Forum, a leading trainer, tongue in cheek, mentioned tracks were designed by Bookmakers, funny I thought, but a respected participant and form expert berated him, worst corner ever Beaumont Park in Newcastle, calamity corner it was known as.

  3. So if i understand correctly Bruce we should educate gamblers into punters. Bit of play on words really, interpretation to suit.
    On a previous article i thought you were trying to explain that in your opinion starting prices of the Fav were below what you would expect and they should be higher even for the majority that were beaten as fav. There’s a mob called Betfair that if you take advantage of their business by laying the fav that may get beaten we could pluck the gamblers of some of their excess cash.
    I miss took the box at the bottom of your articles ,i must wear my glasses more i thought it was to post comments about your articles not compliments.
    I probably couldn’t do what you do (a good job) because i would be to sensative to anyone who never agreed with me in total. And took what i said for granted. At least i only have a different view hey.
    Keep up the good work in the new year .
    And i will wear my glasses.

  4. So if i understand correctly Bruce we should educate gamblers into punters. Bit of play on words really, interpretation to suit.

    On a previous article i thought you were trying to explain that in your opinion starting prices of the Fav were below what you would expect and they should be higher even for the majority that were beaten as fav. There’s a mob called Betfair that if you take advantage of their business by laying the fav that may get beaten we could pluck the gamblers of some of their excess cash.

    I miss took the box at the bottom of your articles ,i must wear my glasses more i thought it was to post comments about your articles not compliments.

    I probably couldn’t do what you do (a good job) because i would be to sensative to anyone who never agreed with me in total. And took what i said for granted. At least i only have a different view hey.

    Keep up the good work in the new year .

    And i will wear my glasses.